When Will We See OpenID.gc.ca ?



November 21, 2008

Just wanted to add that the Obama administration is reviewing OpenID for consideration within the .gov domain (readwrite.com also now using Drupal).
David Eaves just wrote up a good appeal for OpenID in his post canadian governments: how to waste millions online ($30m and counting).

Looks like the USA government is now endorsing OpenID (note site now using Drupal) as a framework.

I wanted to point folks to a GC OpenID (no longer available), a proof of concept project to bring OpenID to the Government of Canada.

I first became aware of the movement behind the OpenID project back in 2004 at Advocacy Dev 1, organized by Aspiration Tech.  At the first Toronto Drupal Camp, I attended a great workshop by James Walker who was running through his OpenID module which has since been released as part of Drupal Core.  At that time I decided to set up an account with MyOpenID.com and have been using it ever since.  I've been so impressed with this approach to managing usernames & passwords that I've been enabling OpenID on client sites by default. 

Yahoo (with Flickr) was the first big company to announce that they would provide OpenID authentication for all of their users in February.  Since then AOL (archive.org) has also jumped on board extending the authentication even further.& Google (and Blogger.com) has announced support for OpenID as has Microsoft (LiveID).

So when will we see a single sign on for the Government of Canada.  Not that everyone would feel comfortable using the government as a source of authentication, but wouldn't it be nice if you could register once with the government and know that you would be able to authenticate against any other Canadian government website using that same username/password?

This is a protocol which is secure, well supported and which has a critical mass of users and developers that it is easy to adopt. There are plenty of resources available to help government staff host an OpenID server

The framework also allows you to choose what OpenID provider you are using when you login to a site (and sites usually allow you to store more than one profile). So I could login with MikeGifford.openid.gc.ca when logging in to government websites, and then use my main mgifford.myopenid.com profile when I am accessing other sites (but obviously I could use my openid.gc.ca profile in other places). 

It is great to see initiatives to Demand OpenID working to encourage organizations to adopt this platform. Using bookmarklets like the one made available through this campaign it is really easy to collect lists of links you'd like to see use OpenID. 

Thanks Nora for getting me thinking about this earlier today.

About The Author

Mike Gifford is the founder of OpenConcept Consulting Inc, which he started in 1999. Since then, he has been particularly active in developing and extending open source content management systems to allow people to get closer to their content. Before starting OpenConcept, Mike had worked for a number of national NGOs including Oxfam Canada and Friends of the Earth.